Round 19, we saw individuals soar and full teams stumble. A stalwart of the game David Munday hit a memorable milestone of 350 games, there was huge Mark of the Year contenders, and the last spot in the top eight changed hands again.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 19 of the 2021 AFL Premiership season. Complete from A-Z.
A is for All you need is Gov. In his 150th game, not only did Jeremy McGovern captain and earn life membership, but he also attended a handful of ruck contests and centre bounces. He had some success too, winning nine hit-outs, which was an unusual sight as he normally stays put down back. West Coast has been searching for the perfect ruck combination all season, rotating through Nathan Vardy, Oscar Allen, Harry Edwards, and Bailey Williams.
But perhaps, maybe, Gov is all you need?
B is for Bitter pill to Swallow. Coming into the clash with the Brisbane Lions, the Gold Coast Suns had been building form, winning two of their past three matches. After leading by 27 points at half time, nothing went right for the young Suns from that point onwards. They would kick just one goal (through Josh Corbett in junk time) to the Lions’ 13 (including 11 straight) to lose by 49 points. Co-captain David Swallow epitomised the Suns’ woes, turning over a simple backline disposal straight into the hands of Dan McStay directly in front of goal.
C is for Celebrating consistent class. What a week for David Mundy – a 36th birthday, a contract extension, and an enormous milestone capping off the week of celebrations. The Freo veteran played his 350th game in Round 19, becoming the second player to play 350 games for a WA club after Matthew Pavlich.
He had a quiet game for his standards, but, his impact was still felt. Early on he looked lively, gathering five touches and kicking a goal reminiscent of his playing style: tough, but classy. He finished with 17 touches, three clearances, and five score involvements.
D is for Dusty-less Tigers 2021 reality. The Tigers were dealt a blow when they learned star midfielder Dustin Martin would sit on the sidelines with a kidney injury for the remainder of 2021. At an important time in the season with Richmond still teetering on the edge of the finals, a 32-point loss against Geelong in Round 19 could be a snapshot of how hard it’ll be adjusting to life without Martin and its push for the finals in the final month of the season.
E is for Eighth place secured. A battle for the eighth position on the ladder between Essendon and GWS rounded out Round 19. After the momentum swung the Bombers’ way to see them up by 16 points at half time, the Giants managed to fight back, keeping their opponents to one goal in the second half and winning by 13 points.
West Coast sits six points clear of GWS in seventh, while Essendon remains on 32 points alongside Richmond, Fremantle, and St Kilda.
F is for First half trend continues against Cats. Richmond scored just one goal in the first half of its game in Round 19, which continues a trend from the past fortnight in terms of Geelong’s game. In Round 17 and Round 18 against Carlton and Fremantle respectively, the Cats held their opponents to one goal in the half on the way to a win, reminiscent of Round 19 against the Tigers.
G is for Gawn Almighty. While many players are coming for his title as the best ruckman in the AFL, Max Gawn reminded everyone on Saturday why he might still be on top of the mountain. He had a massive 56 hit-outs for the Dees, to go along with his 18 disposals and six clearances in a dominant display. While Melbourne didn’t get the chocolates or win the clearance battle, Gawn was one of the main factors keeping his side in the game.
H is for Hawks’ Marvel nightmare continues. The Hawks’ Marvel Stadium hoodoo continues, with the 19-point loss to the Crows on Saturday night marking their third straight loss at the venue. Marvel Stadium continues to be a happy hunting ground for opposition sides with the Hawks losing six of their past 10 Marvel Stadium fixtures.
I is for Isaac’s Incline. Sydney’s Isaac Heeney has one mark of the year award to his name already and he put his hand up for another with a huge grab in the second term. With Fremantle on top of the game early, Heeney launched over Luke Ryan, and soared straight into the conversation, sparking the Swans in the process as well.
J is for Joe puts on a show. As commentator Anthony Hudson eloquently put it: “The Joe Show is back!” Joe Daniher may have kicked four behinds in a day of woeful set shot kicking, but two of his three majors were freakish acts of skill, and frankly, luck.
K is for the King ascends to the sky. It was a round certainly filled with some Mark of the year contenders. The highlights were sparse on what turned into a dirty day for Carlton but they got a lift late in the second quarter when ruckman Tom De Koning rose high deep inside forward 50 to take a big mark. He couldn’t, however, finish the job, kicking the ball across the face, not even registering a score.
L is for Larkey in Seven heaven. Emerging North Melbourne forward Nick Larkey continues to go from strength to strength this season being the main man in the Kangaroos forward line, booting a career-high seven goals. The young Roo now has 34 goals for the season.
M is for Max King maxed out. Max King’s performance up forward almost singlehandedly won St Kilda the game. In a career-best performance, he booted six goals and took eight contested marks. In the final quarter, he kicked three goals and threatened to take the game away from West Coast as he just could not be contained. With an additional eight score involvements, it was a performance King should be proud of as he continues to develop.
N is for New role. Josh Schache’s unexpected inclusion for his second game of the year raised some eyebrows during the week, but the former number two pick’s shift to the backline proved to be a masterstroke. In the Bulldogs’ pivotal top-of-the-table clash, Schache had 17 disposals and took six marks, while spending time on all three of the Dees’ tall forwards.
Coach Luke Beveridge hasn’t been afraid to throw his players around in the past, and his latest experiment looks like it could be another success story. With Alex Keath potentially out for an extended period with a hamstring injury, Schache could all of a sudden be a vital player come September.
O is for Optus on fire. There were several fire trucks outside Optus Stadium but their purpose for being there has not yet been clarified. Perhaps they were there to put out Tim Kelly who was on fire. Kelly stood up and provided an extra spark in Luke Shuey’s absence. He was significant in the second-quarter surge, with 13 disposals and five inside 50s for the stanza.
P is for Pb for Esava. After signing a two-year contract extension with Geelong, Esava Ratugolea had a day to remember, celebrating his 50th game with a career-best haul of four goals. It beat his previous-best three goals against West Coast in the 2019 semi-final at the MCG.
Q is for Q Clash 21 no fun for Suns. Gold Coast was out for Q Clash revenge on Saturday afternoon, having lost the last five matches against its rivals. Signs were looking good early, the Suns winning the first half against the Lions for the first time since that last win, but the streak ultimately lives on. The ledger now stands at 15-6, the Lions’ way.
R is for Roo-build going to plan nicely. The improvement at North Melbourne from the first half of the season to what they have produced in the last month and a half is chalk and cheese and a telltale sign that the Roo-build is right on track.
Led by their star experienced players Ben Cunnington, Jack Ziebell, and Jed Anderson, they are surrounded but several young joeys in the midfield who look like they will develop into a very good midfield group. With names such as Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips, Jy Simpkin, Tom Powell, and key posts in Larkey and McKay at either end, the Roos are building nicely under David Noble.
S is for Scotty’s season over. Collingwood’s skipper Scott Pendlebury has played his last game for 2021 after sustaining a hairline fracture in his side’s loss to Port Adelaide on Friday night. Pendlebury was subbed off at quarter-time after landing awkwardly in a tackle during the first term.
The Pies had seven players with 10 games or less fielded, and despite hanging in there, were defeated by 28 points; feeling the lack of experience and composure that their captain undoubtedly provides each week.
T is for Trav’s 300th. He may not have played in front of a packed crowd at Adelaide Oval, or at least in front of his Mum like he thought he would have after being granted permission then pulled at the last minute, but Travis Boak celebrated game 300 with a win and in typical Travis Boak style.
He finished the night with 30 disposals, 16 of which were contested before being chaired off by Ollie Wines and Sam Powell-Pepper. Collingwood joined in honoring Boak, lining up alongside Port Adelaide, in pure testament to the player he is.
U is for Unlikely goal scorer. Rory Laird put in a best-on-ground performance against the Hawks, amassing 36 disposals and also contributing to the scoring with two goals. Having kicked just one goal for the season and 16 in his career, Laird scored multiple goals for the first time – both of which would come in important moments.
V is for Vacancies? No worries. The Giants went into their season-defining match against Essendon without big names Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene, but it did not faze them. Lachie Whitfield was at his best, Jesse Hogan slotted two majors, Lachie Ash kept Darcy Parish relatively quiet, and Brett Daniels stood up when his team needed him, kicking the sealer.
W is for Winners again. The Crows finally are back on the winners’ list, securing their first win since Round 10 where they stunned the Demons at Adelaide Oval. Led by Ben Keays and Rory Laird in the middle and Taylor Walker slotting four up forward, the Crows would lead at every change in a complete performance.
X is for X-rays required (again). Already having had a horror run with injuries in 2021, Fremantle was left to count the cost of Sunday’s loss to Sydney. Captain Nat Fyfe’s shoulder injury ruled him out at half-time, followed by a hamstring injury to Michael Walters.
Alex Pearce finished the game on the bench after a head knock and to top it off, Sean Darcy needed recurring treatment for a knee complaint. With such key pillars in the ward, the Dockers will likely have more forced changes to the line-up ahead of the last month of the year.
Y is for You Beauty! Cody Weightman has only played 12 games, but the Dogs’ small forward is quickly putting together an hours-long highlights reel. “Flea” took to the skies on Saturday night and pulled down an absolute screamer. It’s yet another Mark of the Year contender in a season where it feels like there’s been one every week. Condolences to Max Gawn as well for being used as a step ladder once again.
Z is for Zach and Darcy kept quiet. If it wasn’t clear before tonight, it is now: when Merrett and Parish aren’t on, the rest of the team isn’t either. GWS kept the two Bombers mids relatively quiet with 20 and 15 disposals respectively, resulting in the shutdown of Essendon’s engine. The pair is relied on to provide the fire into the forward line, but the Giants were able to douse them before they flared up.